May 24, 2007

Two new books about Hillary Clinton.

Anything new?
"A Woman in Charge: The Life of Hillary Rodham Clinton," by Carl Bernstein, reports that Clinton as first lady was terrified she would be prosecuted, took over her own legal and political defense, and decided not to be forthcoming with investigators because she was convinced she was unfairly targeted. While in Arkansas, according to Bernstein, she personally interviewed one woman alleged to have had an affair with her husband, contemplated divorce and thought about running for governor out of anger at her husband's indiscretions.

"Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham Clinton," by Jeff Gerth and Don Van Natta Jr., reports that during her husband's 1992 campaign, a team she oversaw hired a private investigator to undermine Gennifer Flowers "until she is destroyed."...

According to Gerth and Van Natta, even before the Clintons were married they formulated a "secret pact of ambition" aimed at reinventing the Democratic Party and getting to the White House. The authors cite a former Bill Clinton girlfriend, Marla Crider, who said she saw a letter on his desk written by Hillary Clinton, outlining the couple's long-term ambitions, which they called their "twenty-year project."...

The authors report that the Clintons updated their plan after the 1992 election, determining that Hillary would run when Bill left office. They cite two people, Ann Crittenden and John Henry, who said Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer prize-winning historian and close Clinton friend, told them that the Clintons "still planned two terms in the White House for Bill and, later, two for Hillary."
I'm not troubled that a husband and wife would discuss their shared ambitions, but putting a "secret pact of ambition" in writing seems really disturbing. But is it true? Unless I see the document, I'm not going to get any more exercised over it than I already am about the prospect of a President who's already had his two terms getting back into the White House through his wife.

There's some interesting material at the link about Bill Clinton's affairs, which you'd think would be a very tired subject by now. Bernstein writes about Marilyn Jo Jenkins, "a power company executive he fell in love with and almost left his wife over":
Jenkins ... was spirited into the governor's mansion at 5:15 a.m. for a final, furtive meeting with him the day he left for Washington to assume the presidency -- [and] Bernstein's account makes clear her pivotal role.

Bill Clinton wanted to divorce his wife to be with Jenkins in 1989, Bernstein reports, but Hillary Clinton refused. "There are worse things than infidelity," she told Betsey Wright, the governor's chief of staff.
The key question now is what these things about Bill mean about Hillary. It's not a hard question to answer, though, it seems. The narrative is ambition, and Bill Clinton is what he is. On balance, he's quite useful to an ambitious plan. But who knows the real truth? Who knows what the two of them have said to each other? We can't know, and yet we must form opinions about her.


Tim said...

If these books ring true, as I suspect they will, they won't be helpful to her.

Americans don't like transparently cold, calculating politicians. We voted for Nixon twice, and don't want to repeat the experience.

The Drill SGT said...

Naked ambition

Ron said...

I've always wondered why people think of Hillary as a powerful figure. Her husband seems to chase all the girls he wants, and it seems to be without any tangible consequences from Hillary. How can this be squared up with her being a powerful partner in their marriage? One infidelity may be worked out, but this many? Over so long? I can't think of a context where this makes Hillary look good! The message I get as a man is that I can screw whom I want and when -- I just gotta spin the politics right.

And we used to worry about a divorced President?

Beth said...

Secret plan. So secret we hear about it in a book by a famous reporter, who heard about it from someone who saw it sitting, not so secretly, in plain sight.

How many more months of this?

Anonymous said...

This one seems a little farfetched to me. I doubt many people have documents laying around their houses saying "Secret Plan."

It also reminds me of Dignan's 75-Year Plan in Bottle Rocket.

All of that said, I think Hillary Clinton will make a terrible president, but that she is the best of the Democratic candidates that I have seen. I weep for the future.

blake said...

Secret plan. So secret we hear about it in a book by a famous reporter, who heard about it from someone who saw it sitting, not so secretly, in plain sight.

I don't know. It doesn't seem so far-fetched to me.

Fen said...

I just hope a reporter has the balls to ask Hillary what her plan is to protect WH female staff from her husband. I don't think America wants to deal with Bill sexually abusing/assaulting women all over again.

Bruce Hayden said...


While I agree with you about protecting the female staff, I don't see it being an issue this time around. Bill may screw around, but I am fairly certain it won't be in the West Wing. He almost got away with it last time around because a lot of the staff there were his people. This time around, they will be Hillary's, and their loyalty will be strongly with her. She has the reputation of having very loyal staff, and letting her husband get away with this sort of thing in the WH would be the absolute fastest way to get canned they might face. Likely much worse than leaking nuclear secrets, etc.

I am saying this based on how effective she was keeping this sort of thing out of the WH when her husband was controlling the bulk of the appointments. She was notably more effective keeping her husband under control there than when he was governor of Arkansas.

Of course, no one really expects her husband to behave. But I suspect that he will continue to do what he does today, when he is away from her, which is the bulk of the time, he does what he wants to. So, when he travels the country on either his or her business, he would sneak some on the side. As long as it was somewhat discreet and didn't embarass Hillary, it would likely be tolerated.

Think of it this way. Last time the WH was his nest. This time it would be hers. And his screwing around with other women in her nest would be too embarassing. So, she will make sure it doesn't happen.

Tom Head said...

I'm not a huge fan of the Clintons to say the least, but I don't see how any of this will hurt her because it's consistent with her public persona. Everybody knows that she's sneaky, calculating, ruthless, ambitious, and has probably wanted to be president since she was 5 years old, and all of those facts play into the current poll numbers. She still seems pretty much invincible to me.

Whether that's a good or bad thing is of course another matter. Personally I'd rather see Barack Obama get the nomination than watch the dueling Bush and Clinton dynasties keep doing their thing, but that's just me. I do like the idea of a woman in the White House. I just wish it wasn't Hillary Clinton. Janet Napolitano, or someone else not known primarily as a First Lady, would be, I think, better.



Bruce Hayden said...

What is really scary right now to me is that of the major Democratic candidates, Hillary is the only one I can even envision doing a credible job. I would be willing to accept her venal corruption to keep the likes of Obama and esp. Edwards out of the White House. A year ago, I would have been shocked at seeing myself contemplating accepting her. But she does have a certain toughness that I think is needed to fight the War on Terror that Edwards denied this week existed.

Of course, I strongly believe that the three major Republican candidates would do a far better job than Hillary. But right now, I despair of seeing that happen.

Of the lot on the left, it is increasingly evident that she is by far the least bad.

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Bruce Hayden said...


I do find interesting the parallels between Hillary and Nixon. After all, she helped bring him down. But in addition to the cold and calculating, they are/were both paranoid and vindictive.

Nevertheless, I see this as the season to bring out attack books. I suspect that Shrumm's claim that Edwards admitted to being uncomfortable around gays to resonate more strongly in a negative way within the Democratic party than that Hillary is cold and calculating.

And note that her fault is not being cold and calculating, per se, because that is really necessary in a president. But rather, that she is so transparently so. What she lacks is the ability to hide that with an emotional front.

Drill Sgt.

Of course it is naked ambition. That is to be expected. Her problem is that she can't hide it better.

PeterP said...

Bernstein's account makes clear her pivotal role.

...I've always admired a woman with the athleticism to do the Helicopter, but not half as much as I stand in awe of the men willing to take the risk.

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ricpic said...

I don't pretend to understand the mind that controls the hand that pulls the Democrat lever. That said I also don't see how even that mind won't be affected by Clinton fatigue, especially of the Bill Clinton variety, this time around.

George M. Spencer said...

I've known people who have drawn up 5-, 10-, 20- year plans for their lives, so that's not as far-fetched as it sounds.

Having never heard of Marla Crider, I looked her up, on Google, that is...and found this...

She's in there somewhere, I guess..

Actually...she was

"...a 21-year-old college graduate named Marla Crider who worked on Bill's 1974 Congressional campaign and was romantically involved with him until Hillary -- Bill's official girlfriend back in Washington -- showed up and put an end to the affair. (Marla was the first Monica, it is insinuated.) It is telling that in ''State of a Union,'' Hillary's physical appearance passes for a major theme. Oppenheimer never misses an opportunity to remark on the first lady's lack of conventional female charms and devotes two pages to a Life magazine photo spread on the young Arkansas governor and his wife that never appeared, apparently because Hillary was deemed insufficiently photogenic."

Tim said...

"And there is no chance of any Republican getting elected after George Bush has left the GOP a smoking ruin. He had plenty of help, but that's another story."

Conventional wisdom would suggest you are right, but the head-to-head match ups between the leading GOP contenders and Hillary! suggest the race is hardly a slam dunk for the Dems.

hdhouse said...

So let me get this straight 'cause I don't get it.

In 1974 Ms. Crider sees a document on Bill's desk that is a 20 year plan..president, rejuvinated democratic party, etc...and Ms. Crider keeps her mouth shut about this for what? 33 years...and now remembers it in vivid detail....with enouch personal cache as to be the basis for fact? Really?

And why do I find Ms. Crider and that complete wacko Robert Morrow of "Hillary has killed before she killed Vince Foster" fame, tangled into this web?

Ahhh my little we have to endure you again?

amba said...

there is no chance of any Republican getting elected

What?? Come on.

You're all saying "will be," as if a Hillary presidency is inevitable. Have you gone mad?

Hillary's candidacy increases the chances that a Republican will get elected, because she is so disliked.

True, she has staked out the "tough on national security" position that a winning candidate must have and that no other Democrat will touch. True also that a rump minority of Democrats are nostalgic for Bill's presidency and feel they could turn back the clock if he was back in the White House.

But I think the country is still going to prefer a Republican. Remember that the candidate will swing toward the center after the primaries. Any one of the main contenders could project a warmer, deeper-rooted, less brittle toughness than Hillary does. Any one of them could convince voters that the interest of the country came before his own self-interest, something you can never believe with the Clintons.

Finally, if a good marriage makes one stronger in his or her public life, a bad marriage can only make one weaker.

KCFleming said...

The Secret Plan thing is hilarious. Not entirely impossible, though extremely unlikely. But funny? Definitely. Its existence would surprise no one.

I just don't know how any Democrat can vow to be tough against an enemy they won't even acknowledge exists.

And socially, the Blue staters are moving further toward the nanny state concept as practiced in England and Canada. British parents get to have the sate demand proof they have been teaching their kids the State Approved nursery rhymes, and now every breath they take can be monitored by a mini-helicopter police drone.

The affluence created by capitalism carries the seeds of destruction for the very virtues required to sustain it. Hard work and deferred gratification eventually lose out to a government-supplied right to free everything. And then the deluge.

Hillary is a modern New Deal Puritan, an ideologue pushing the failed ideas of health care socialism and effortless cradle-to-grave statism.

I've quit thinking people will see through her, or desire the harder road, even if it is the right one. The yearning to sleep in as your parents do the chores is too tempting.

The only historical counter-balance to this trend in the US is the simultaneous existence of a faction that wants to tell the gummint to go to hell.

I'm Full of Soup said...

I still see Bill Clinton as a predator who did not have affairs or girlfriends until he became governor. That is when he realized "hey this job helps me get chicks".

Most guys do their bedhopping in college and in their 20's. Clinton, a onetime nerd, seems to be trying to make up for missing out on that.

George M. Spencer said...

I'll repeat...lots of people live by multi-year plans, secret or otherwise....Who? Company owners, government executives (i.e. departmental heads), partners in professional practices, real estate developers, and those business and personal plans are either identical or intertwined.

I'd be surprised if most major politicians did NOT have multi-year life plans.

knox said...

during her husband's 1992 campaign, a team she oversaw hired a private investigator to undermine Gennifer Flowers "until she is destroyed."...

Let's just tell Hillary Al Qaeda is having an affair with Bill. As Gordon Ramsay would say: War on Terror: done!

AllenS said...

I will not be voting for Hillary. However, I think that the entertainment value of her and Bill back in the WH would be great. You just know, Bill would want to run things, and the infighting would make great stories. I also think that Hillary would bomb the crap out of a lot of people, just to show everyone how tough she is.

Crimso said...

"Ahhh my little we have to endure you again?"

"during her husband's 1992 campaign, a team she oversaw hired a private investigator to undermine Gennifer Flowers "until she is destroyed."..."

Brutal, brutal irony.

Roger J. said...

Whats a "swiftboater?"

As for the Clinton's I am sure they will be grist for historians and physchologists' mills for centuries to come--in that will probably be their legacy.

I can't believe that given the Clinton's marriage and careers, they would be foolish to think that there wouldnt be a whole library full of half baked, made up, some times factual, and sometimes accurate histories about them. Goes with the terrority. Its up to her to deal with them, because it was her life experience along with her marriage that created them. How she deals with them will be interesting.

I actually happen to think that Hillary might do a fairly good job as President, except for what seems to me to be the same flaw she shared with Bill: overreliance on polling.

paul a'barge said...

worse than infidelity

Look. I'm no fan of Hillary, but since the beginning of time, people (mostly women) have been making choices around infidelity (mostly by men).

I don't think this makes Hillary anything other than human.

Geez. You have entire cultures (France, Italy, Japan, China) that wink, wink, nudge, nudge over infidelity.

Folks who want to bang on Hillary need to get off the Bill's a rogue drum and spend their time on Hillary's politics.

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KCFleming said...

Re: Whats a "swiftboater?"

When some on the left see a horse, they think not of Appaloosas or The Andalusian, nor even a zebra, but instead are convinced it's a Unicorn.

David said...

Bill Clinton wanted to divorce his wife to be with Jenkins in 1989, Bernstein reports, but Hillary Clinton refused.

She refused? What, exactly, does that mean? If he wants a divorce, she can't actually refuse. That sounds more like something you tell your (incredibly dumb) mistress: "Honey, you know I want to be with you, but Hillary won't let me."

Steven said...

hdhouse: I agree with you -- recollections like this, more than 30 years later, are suspect. I imagine, then, that you would agree that recollections about someone typing up a memo in a Texas Air National Guard office in 1968 (or whenever it was) are equally worthless.

TMink said...

I think that most people who dream of the presidency have that drem for some time and work to make it happen. It fits with their psyche, and that is neither a good nor a bad thing. It is just likely true.

So what if that memo exists? I do not like Senator Clinton's policies. I fear that her idea of health care reform will make the entire US health care system look like the VA.

And people hate her. Not everyone obviously, but she has HUGE negatives in polling because so many people absolutly loathe her.

I do not think that she is electable if the Republicans nominate someone who is.


Roger J. said...

Steven: to paraphrase George Orwell: some recollections are more equal than other recollections.

Steven said...

Was it Groucho Marx who said that he wouldn't want to be a member of any club that would have him? I have a similar kind of feeling about the Presidency -- I generally don't trust any of the self-selected group of people who choose to run. You almost have to be nuts to be willing to go through what you have to go through (particularly these days, now that the campaign seems to start 10 years in advance). Only someone with an unhealthy level of ambition or with an excessive level of regard for their own ideas, or both, would put up with all this nonsense. As someone up above remarked, the only thing that really differentiates Hillary Clinton from the others is that she is not as good as they are at covering up these traits.

ballyfager said...

Ambitious? They don't have real ambition. At the end of the day they're just a couple of parasites who, left to their own devices, couldn't run a hotdog stand. Because neither one of them would ever get off their fat, dead asses and actually cook the hotdogs.

hdhouse said...

Steven...yes. i agree with you. i never defended Rather or the entire CBS affair as it was just plain poor journalism. It cost Rather his career and CBS a lot of problems....punishment to fit the crime so to speak....

so what is the punishment to fit the crime here? its been all over the talk shows all day...millions have heard it repeated over and over and what is the remedy? this stupid woman gets laughed at? does that matter? do the books get recalled? editors fired?

answer please.

KCFleming said...

Re: "what is the remedy?"


Rather was repeating an obvious lie in an 11th hour attempt to sink Bush's candidacy. He deserved his ignominy.

But a half-recalled memo about personal ambition? Yawn. A bit silly, maybe somewhat Nixonian, but overall meh.

And I say that despite my being flat-out anti-Hillary. It's a gnat on a fly.

Steven said...

ballyfager: I do think they are ambitious, just not in the conventional way. Most people are ambitious (to varying degrees) to make money. Politicians are ambitious to have control over other people's lives.

In many cases, I actually think that they are not really very motivated by money; if they were, they almost certainly would not have chosen politics as a career. (Some, of course, only go into politics after they have already made a lot of money, cf. Edwards, and money is no longer much of a concern.) And I think that this explains why so many of them fail to understand certain concepts, like the idea that changing marginal tax rates can have a significant impact on things like new business formation. A change in marginal tax rates has little impact on their own behavior, so they fail to see how it might affect other people's behavior.

It's the almost compulsive desire to control other people's lives (dressed up as "concern" for others, "wanting to make the world a better place," etc.) that I find so off-putting. We see it in things like Nanny Bloomberg's banning of trans-fats in restaurants. I'm all in favor of making sure people know about risks, but I'm also all in favor of letting them make decisions for themselves as much as possible.

Roger J. said...

The more I think about it (which happens sometimes, albeit not often) why ever would we assume a candidate for the presidency is NOT ambitious? Seems to me that the common thing they all share (along with narcissim, if I recall one psychological assessment of politicians accurately). Ambitiousness would disqualify all candidates were it a meaningful criterion.

ballyfager said...

People with real ambition expect to succeed through their own abilities and efforts. Politics attracts those whose reach exceeds their grasp.

The Clintons, who are by no means young, still haven't learned that you have to improve yourself from the inside out.

hdhouse said...

what about Dick Morris's book on the her? Wasn't it "why i hate hillary...memoirs of a toe-sucking pervert"...

reminds me of these without the paid-for sex.

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LA Chaytor said...

Lack of Access to Hillary Clinton Need Not Have been A Problem.
Carl Bernstein is a fine journalist and has persued a worthy project -- It is crucial that We The People are able to view Hillary up close and personal as the primaries approach. Until now we have been barraged by plastic images and ridicule of Hillary by the media --why are they so afraid of her, and superficial... the Republican fear of Hillary is getting to be an endorsement.

Neither Carl Bernstein, nor Jeff and Don, were given the personal interviews with Hillary that they needed to reveal the inner person... and it shows. We do not get the close up inside examination and profiling of Hillary that we are all looking for... identifying Hillary as ambitious and calculating is not deep enough for me.
I've wanted to know the psychological make up of Hillary Clinton for some time.
Carl Bernstein, like all of Hillary's biographers to date, has done something cliched: instead of exploring the character and personbality of Hillary he has focussed on the events surrounding her -- and an externally perceived reaction to those events.
Instead he might have used the oft repeated events merely as an established backdrop from which to launch a more riveting and inside human story of one real woman's confrontation with herself, God, and human nature.

Another successful book has done just that... extrapolated from the portfolio of known facts -- by the technique of juxtaposition of hypothesized future and hidden events along with new and secret characters into the established bland biography of Hillary. In this way Dr. Thomas Moore has acheived the first full glimpse of the life inside Hillary Clinton -- in his new book titled HILLARY. (ISBN#0978602404 by Alphar Publishing) The book develops the full complexity and subtlety of the conflicted and adventurous human nature of the Hillary within... a literary creation that is truly revealing... and possibly libelous.